Preston have been pretty quiet in the transfer market this summer, and Alex Neil wants that to change quickly.
North End have brought in just two new faces; defender Patrick Bauer and striker David Nugent. Both players have arrived as free agents, meaning Preston are yet to spend a transfer fee this summer.
That’s despite losing star winger Callum Robinson to Sheffield United, in a deal which brought in around £7million. Yes, Bauer and Nugent will have come with ‘hidden’ costs such as agent fees and signing-on fees, but the point still stands.
North End now have just eight days to get deals done. The transfer window slams shut next Thursday, and there is no loan market after that, unlike last season.
Today, boss Neil spoke to the media about Preston’s transfer situation, and – as quoted by Lancs Live – suggested that he will be ‘really disappointed’ if signings aren’t made.
Neil has admitted that, in his view, the squad needs improvement. Whether that’s the view of Trevor Hemmings is another matter though.
“Rest assured we definitely want to sign a few players before the window ends,” said Neil. “If the window ended and we hadn’t done any business I would be really disappointed. I have made no secrets about the fact that we need to strengthen the squad in my view,” he added.
This seems like a clear message to Hemmings, for the pursestrings to be relaxed somewhat. Nobody is asking for North End to splash £4million, £5million, £6million or more on new signings. That’s not going to happen any time soon, but spending can be scaled up.
North End currently do look weaker than last season. Robinson is a huge loss, but Lukas Nmecha and Brandon Barker have gone too. That’s three wingers no longer at Deepdale, and whilst Barker and Nmecha didn’t impress some, they were vital squad options.
Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop are back, and Josh Ginnelly is more involved than earlier this year. Still, that’s not quite enough to make up for the loss of pace, creativity and goals.
Elsewhere, North End’s goalkeeping options remain a huge problem. Neither Declan Rudd or Connor Ripley have proven they can be the solution. A failed move for Aro Muric earlier this summer suggests Neil is keen on a new stopper. A left back would be ideal in order to get Josh Earl out on loan, whilst another striker could yet come in with Salford City chasing Louis Moult.
Neil needs these new recruits, or North End risk standing still. With money in the bank from the Robinson deal, it’s time for Preston to get serious in the transfer market. Leaving business so late smacks of brinkmanship from North End, but Hemmings must now back his manager with the signings he needs after this public appeal.